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>> it is kind of boring. i watched soccer all weekend. i wasn't going to admit it because it's un-american. but insad of watching the ncaa. >> i already knew what we covered today, dan abrams' book. i wish he knew that women aren't that stupid. when he brings that to a bar, it's not going to work. >> women are brilliant, we all know that. so if we stick around, willie is going to be on the morning roast. what's this called? "the daily rundown." >> what are you doing, willie? >> he's wrapping us. >> hey, is chuck todd going to be on today? >> no, no chuck. >> i may even watch. >> if it's way too early, what time is it? >> it's time for "morning joe" but right now it's time for "the weekly walker" or what is it? "the daily rundown" with willie geist.
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a cruise missile strikes gadhafi's libyan compound in tripoli. gadhafi vows it will be a long war, so is he right? the success so far in the air over libya, come tough questions on the ground in washington. how long will the fighting last and when it's over, will gadhafi be gone? >> i don't have an exact date in mind and i don't have -- i haven't been given a date by the president where u.s. military participation here would end. plus, a troubling turn in japan. workers are pulled from the crippled reactor complex after smoke is seen rising from two of the reactors overnight. how big a setback is this? it's monday, march 21st, 2011. i'm willie geist. chuck and savannah are traveling with the president in south america. we will hear from them later this hour. let's get right to the run down, we begin with operation odyssey dawn in libya. punishing air strikes drove
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pro-gadhafi forces further from home base last night though it is unclear where gadhafi is at this hour. rebels celebrated after u.s., british and french planes demolished libyan tanks and took out air defenses. overnight the opposition said it had regained almost 40 miles of territory. colonel gadhafi appears to have escaped harm in the attack on his administration building. he has though warned of a long war and said he'd open up the government's arsenal to arm his supporters. on sunday defense secretary robert gates reiterated that the u.s. has no plans to send in ground forces and says the u.s. would scale back its role soon. >> we expect that in a matter of days to be able to turn over the primary responsibility to others. we will continue to support the coalition, we will be a member of the coalition, we will have a military role in the coalition. but we will not have the preeminent role. >> richard angel is nbc's chief foreign correspondent. he has the latest for us from
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libya. richard. >> reporter: willie, there is a definite possibility that this conflict could be going into a protracted stalemate. overnight the strongest message yet from the western alliance, some arab support as well, against gadhafi with a missile strike in the heart of tripoli destroying an administrative building inside gadhafi's own compound. the compound is like a military base in the center of tripoli. it is surrounded by high walls. there are many buildings inside of it. the building that was mostly destroyed has been described as an administrative building. no word if gadhafi himself was inside the complex at the time. but the complex has been filled with hundreds of volunteer human shields. gadhafi loyalists who say on their own, out of their own volition, they want to put their lives at risk to protect the libyan leader. here in the east, rebel-held territory, the rebels tell us they are incredibly encouraged. their morale is high, they believe they now have the support of the u.s. military, of
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european military. but even with the support, it is not clear the rebels will be able to advance to tripoli. they remain without a clear leadership. most of the rebels don't have military training and some unites of gadhafi's army here in the east have been holding out and so far, the rebels have not been able to take advantage of this incredible gift of western military support to drive and continue to advance to tripoli. willie? >> richard engel in libya for us this morning, thanks. for more perspective, i'm joined by retired army four-star general barry mccaffrey. the general is also an nbc news military analyst. general mccaffrey, good morning. as far as you understand it, what is our objective here? is it strictly a humanitarian one or are we going after gadhafi? >> well, i think the pentagon's going to stick strictly with the u.n. declaration which has the sort of nonsensical notion of an air cap which doesn't protect anybody. remember, southern iraq, saddam
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hussein came in and murdered thousands of people during the air cap. the other part of the u.n. resolution though talked about protecting the population and i think the pentagon is liberally interpreting this to try and destroy the center of gravity of the libyan gadhafi forces which is tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers. they've done a super job and they've also now closed down his air defense and closed down his air force. >> the president himself has said this mission will be days, not weeks. secretary gates said yesterday he hopes to turn this over in "a matter of days." are they setting themselves up a little bit if we're not out in a matter of days and the questions start rising as to how long exactly we're going to be there? >> well, you know, i think nato forces, french, uk, u.s., have operated for 40 years together. so we can take that u.s. command and control facility, the "uss mount whitney's" out in the
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mediterranean, add a french general or british admiral to it and claim that we're no longer in command. right now it is a u.s. army four-star general running the operation. so i think we could transition the command and control without much difficulty. the problem will come though if gadhafi's next move, as he's done before, is get inside urban areas with his armor, protect himself from allied air attack. at that point i don't see how the brits and the french and four fighter jets out of qatar make up the difference. >> the other claim that's been made is that there will be no american boots on the ground. this will strictly be an air campaign. from your experience, general, stla realiis that realistic at ? >> i think it might be. the problem with libya is the outcome is unknown, political objectives are unclear, a lot of fuzzy rhetoric floating around. i cannot imagine the president committing ground combat forces to the struggle in libya.
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i can't plimagine that the agencies actively involved right now -- hopefully the saudis are providing money and perhaps jordanians or others providing trainers and advisors, but you won't see the 10th mountain division in libya, i doubt. >> general barry mccaffrey, thanks for your insight this morning. appreciate it. in japan, a disyou shalling development apartment the crispled fukushima nuclear plant where smoke was seen rising this morning from two overheated reactors forcing workers to evacuate. robert bazell is nbc's chief science correspondent live in tokyo. bob, good morning. what are you seeing on the ground there? >> reporter: well, right now, willie, i'm seeing a lot of rain here in tokyo and that actually is not insignificant in terms of the efforts to help with the plant because it makes a very bad situation worse. but it seems like after a few days of a lot of hopeful news we have some setbacks today. i don't know how major they are but workers were evacuated for at least a time when the smoke was rising. we haven't gotten any word at
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all about what the source of the smoke is. but it clearly indicates that the reactors are not under control yet. and because they're not under control, they're still leaking radiation, that radiation is spreading across a wider swath of the japanese countryside in that area, and so there's been more and more contaminated food. the japanese government today's stopped shipment of milk from the one prefecture that surrounds the nuclear power plant, but then also said three others would have to stop their shipment of not just spinach and milk -- not just milk but spinach. so it is a widening crisis for the japanese in terms of their food supply. it could go on for a long, long time. >> for the last week or so it seemed like most of the concern for radiation had had been contained to that radius around the fukushima plant. are you seeing any heightened concerns in tokyo, what measures are they taking there? >> not taking too many measures. a lot of people don't believe the government's assurances
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about the food. it is mostly about the food because that's the question of -- you hear about milk that's contaminated and of course mothers are going to get concerned and that's the sort of -- that's going to go on for a long time. they're going to have to set up some kind of strict monitoring system, this is just at a time when the japanese were thinking they could become major food exporters to other nations in asia. that looks like that's not going to happen because other countries are finding radiation already on shipments of vegetables from japan. >> keeping a close on that reactor, bob bazell. the markets were already unstable over japan. now you add in the military action in libya. what's it all mean for wall street? cnbc's michelle caruso cabrera joins us with the answer. >> in terms of oil, libyan oil is higher about $2 a barrel as enforcement of the no-fly zone. when it comes to markets, we'll see a sharply higher market in the early going. it could be while the situation
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in japan hasn't gotten markedly better, it hasn't gotten markedly worse. that's one thing wall street worried about on friday. we do have huge deal news. all the always likes that. looks like at&t is going to buy t-mobile for $39 billion in stock and cash. nap deal announced this morning. the ceo's coming on cnbc exclusively to talk about it. it is expected they will face reler to hu regulatory tuhurdles but they a convinced they can get past that. >> that's a big development for wall street. thanks so much. president obama facing pressure from republicans and democrats to get specific on the action in libya. up next we'll talk with one of the lawmakers present at friday's meeting at the white house, democratic congressman dutch rupertsberger. sarah palin with a rare overseas trip to the middle east. but first, a look ahead at the president's schedule. you're watching "the daily rundown" on msnbc.
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certainly the goals of this campaign right now again are limited and it isn't about seeing him go. >> this is the best chance to get rid of gadhafi in my life. if we don't get rid of him, we will pay a heavy price down the road. the obama administration owns libya with gadhafi. >> as moammar gadhafi digs in for what he vows will be a long war, u.s. officials deny that he and his government are a target. but on capitol hill, calls are growing louder for the president to define more clearly the objectives and the end game for what some fear could become another protracted conflict in the middle east.
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a ranking member of the house committee on intelligence, participating in friday's meeting with top congressional leaders on libya. congressman, good morning. you were in the room. what exactly is the objective here? what should the american people know about what we're doing there and how long we'll be there? >> i think the most important thing is this is a united nations security council resolution with the support of the arab league. this makes this a lot different than, say, when president bush went into iraq unilaterally without the united nations. >> we agree on that point but what is the objective? >> the objective is to really number one, protect those people who are being slaughtered by the dictator, moammar gadhafi. i've met moammar gadhafi. i find him to be a ruthless individual. he was involved with lockerbie. there was a family in the baltimore area whose daughter was killed. i think with the focus of this is now to take -- support the no-fly zone and that has happened now. now the united states is clear -- or president obama is
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clear that there will be no boots on the ground. at this point we are doing what we have to do to support the agenda of protecting the people and enforcing the no-fly zone and as of this time that has been effective. >> so it is a humanitarian mission based on what you've just said there. the president himself though said not long ago, gadhafi must go. so, is colonel gadhafi a target of this u.n. mission? >> at this time, no. that is not the goal at this time. whether or not he's collateral damage, that's going to be seen later on but that's not the mission at this point. the mission is clear and the mission is to protect the people and to enforce the no-fly zone. >> i think a lot of people listening would say, if you go to libya and don't take out moammar gadhafi, what was the point exactly? because when we leave, he's still there. won't he retaliate against the same people we claim to be protecting? not only that, but also retaliate against the united states as did he. you brought up lockerbie as he
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retaliated against us there. >> that's clearly a major issue and something that will be looked at down the road. but the u.n. resolution is clear where that is at this point. and again, to be able to have the arab league be a part of this, one of the first times they have really approved sanction against an arab country, that's a major issue right now. >> so as of now it is a humanitarian mission but you reserve the right, congressman, to escalate it to go after gadhafi -- >> well, there's not a reserving of right. what we're doing from the united states point of view, we cannot put boots on ground. the president is clear with respect to that. great britain will be more involved, so will france and where we go to the next phase time will only tell. what hopefully will be done where this resolution is going will be finished in the next couple of days, and then we'll determine what happens. you know, we're not sure yet who is leading the opposition and we have to make sure that there are not other extreme individuals
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who -- such as al qaeda that will come back and also be a problem to the security of our country. that's a major issue for us. >> i have to ask you here, congressman, about what the standard is for american intervention because a lot of people watching this, what's happening in libya, are saying, wait a minute, 52 people were shot dead in the streets of yemen on friday. we have same thing happening in syria, in bahrain. if this is about a moral stand, if it is a humanitarian mission, why not there? what's the difference? what should people know about that distinction? >> i think there is a big difference. the number one difference is moammar gadhafi himself and the fact that he has been killing his own people. the fact, as you pointed out before, that he has conducted terrorist acts before that. so number one, as i am repeating myself, but we have to protect those individuals. if we did not come in, the coalition did not come in when they did, i think gadhafi would have overtaken the opposition and there would have been a lot of carnage that was there.
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also by taking out his defenses we have weakened him so he will not be able to come back and do the things that he has done not only to his own people but the terrorism acts that he's done in the past. >> are you not concerned, congressman, about the dissolution of the government in yemen and who could come to power there? shouldn't we be equally concerned, if not more so, about what's happening in yemen than what's happening in libya? >> yemen is a lot different. yemen is a country that is more wide open, it has a very weak government. there is a lot of different opposition groups there. there's al qaeda there. all the leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is active live training and plotting against the united states for terrorist attacks and as we found out just a couple hours ago, some of the yemen's cabinets and military people have gone to the other side right now. so that is another very unstable situation but it's different than a situation that we have in libya because of the leadership
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of gadhafi. and his ability to be able to hurt people and to attack people and to really have terrorist attacks that have been going on through his leadership for a period of time. >> congressman, democrat from maryland, thanks for your time today. we appreciate it. up next, on the road with president obama. we'll check in with chuck and savannah in south america where the president will hold his first press conference later today on the military action in libya. plus, gray smoke spotted at japan's nuclear site. how big a setback is this after a weekend that provides some small, at least, glimmers of hope. nuclear weapons expert david albright joins us. you're watching "the daily rundown" on msnbc.
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situation in libya. our own chuck todd and savannah gustry are down there traveling with the president. >> reporter: hey, willie. well, chuck and i are here in rio. it is a little bit windy and of course, the president's trip has been less about what's happening here and more about what's happening across the world. >> and even the brazilian people are seeing it that way as well. largest newspaper in rio -- headline in portuguese, "in brazil obama orders attack on libya." then a photo of a clinking glass between presidents, that's the put-screen part of this trip. it's been sort of an odd image of watching the president try to power through this schedule, this latin america trip despite some calls why didn't he cancel it, and instead they powered through it. there was never any thought -- you talk to anybody in the administration, they said there was no thought of getting had him to cancel this trip because of the poor message they thought it would send to latin america but all of them secretly wish
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they were back in washington dealing with libya and japan right now because they do admit it would be a lot easier to be there than be on this trip at the same time, the repair work that would have gone into dealing with chile and brazil, seeing the president of the united states diss latin america. >> remember the indonesia trip got canceled not once but twice. what we see is really i would call it dual-track diplomacy. president on saturday was sticking to the schedule here in brazil though it had to slide a little bit. then doing briefings in between these meetings he's convened secure conference calls. so they say that the president is very much got his finger on what's happening in libya, but he also wants to stick to this latin american trip because they say this is a trip that's all about relationship building. >> well, it is and all about the economy. they hoped this would be something about jobs but of course none of that message is getting through. in every single update that you and i have done for msnbc and nbc, they're going from live
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pictures in tripoli to what's going on in brazil. so that economic message isn't getting there. that said, it has been in one way, as one administration official said to me, look, we don't want people to think we've launched a war in libya and if we canceled this trip, gone back to washington, d.c. to the situation room, then it looks like we've launched a full-scale war. they do want the world to see this as what they believe it is, which is an intervention by the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis. >> so that's the story here in rio. willie, despite our beautiful backdrop, we can assure you -- >> that's as close as we've gotten. >> we are in fact working. blame it on rio. see you in chile. >> chuck does wear a blue blazer to the beach. the new clear threat in japan. turns out there was trouble weeks before the double disasters. plus, what sarah palin hoping to get out of her stop in israel? and dramatic developments in yemen. tanks roll in after three top
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military generals defect to the opposition. what is going on there? but first, today's trivia question from the almanac of american politics -- which member of congress has been known to bar his staff from parking foreign cars in congressional lots? think about that one. the answer and more coming up on "the daily rundown." i couldn't conceive this as a heart attack. the doctor leaned over and said to me, "you just beat the widow-maker." i was put on an aspirin, and it's part of my regimen now. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. go see your doctor now. 14 clubs. that's what they tell us a legal golf bag can hold. and while that leaves a little room for balls and tees,
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bottom of the hour now. a quick look at what's driving the day. u.s. military officials say the campaign to isolate moammar gadhafi's forces is succeeding. coalition jets are a patrolling no-fly zone today but no new air strikes have been launched as of now. the next step for the u.s. is to hand over control of the operation to other countries later this week, although many are skeptical of that time line.
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president obama will hold a joint news conference today with the chilean president in santiago, chile where he is expected to answer questions about the libyan mission. the president is on a five-day trip to south america. and more trouble at japan's crippled nuclear site. workers were evacuated overnight after smoke was spotted rising from a reactor. there are rising worries over the impact of the radiation leak on the food supply. other stories making headlines. inn a german news organization has published at least three photographs of united states soldiers posing with what appear to be dead afghan civilians. an army investigation has led to murder charges for five soldiers. the photos which we won't show you depict what the army calls "actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the united states army." a top yemeni general has defected today during a growing opposition calling for the end of of the president's rule. the general's joined by two other army commanders as well as
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yemen's ambassadors to jordan and syria and the yemeni parliament's deputy speaker. an unexpected blast of winter weather in southern california this weekend. snow, ice, flooding and rock slides led to evacuations and the closure of some major highways there. back now to the ongoing military campaign in libya. we're joined now by nbc's chief pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski. jim, good to see you this morning. >> good morning, willie. >> jim, what are you hearing out of the pentagon? we've been getting pressure now the president has from democrats and republicans alike saying, whoa, slow down, we weren't even consulted about this in congress and really want to know the end game. is the pentagon doing a good enough job of explaining what we're doing in libya? >> pentagon and military officials right now will tell that you it is not their job to get the message out, it is the job of the white house and particularly the commander in chief. that's been the rap from many on capitol hill, including some
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within the military actually who feel that they've been forced out, in some cases, to deliver a message that perhaps the political arm of the white house should be pushing out there. but you know, from the very beginning, president obama, the white house, has been trying to play down u.s. military participation in this entire affair, when in fact everybody in the whole world, particularly those in that region, of the middle east and north africa there knows that the u.s. is leading this fight. >> let's go back then a little bit. because they've gone out of their way to say the french had the first planes in, we brought the arab league in on this, this is not an american mission. can you talk about how this all came together as the u.n. -- the group of u.n. countries coalesced around this? >> well, you know, actually, president obama, secretary of state clinton, secretary of defense bob gates, and admiral mike mullen, the chairman of the
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joint chiefs of staff, were all somewhat reluctant, gates and mullen in particular put out the word that they didn't think this was a particularly good idea early on. but it was many of the nato allies and what pushed everybody over the edge is when the arab league said, yes, they'd be in favor of enforcing a no-fly zone over libya in order to protect libyan cities from moammar gadhafi's military. so the u.s. was almost dragged reluctantly into this. the only time that president obama really got himself directly involved is when he categorically declared that moammar gadhafi has to go. but when he was asked to back that up, the u.s. was reluctant to do it with any kind of direct military force at first. >> mick, do you think secretary gates painted himself into a corner a little bit on the sunday shows when he said we'll be out in a matter of days? the president says this is a mission that will be days and
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not weeks? we said no boots on the ground. there are a lot of strong declarations being made here in a situation we, frankly, don't know how it is going to end. >> well, when secretary gates says that "we're going to be out of this in a couple of days," he's only referring to the prominent role that the u.s. military is taking in terms of leading the air strikes, commanding the other nato and allied forces in that region. at some point when they feel comfortable enough that the air strikes have succeeded in absolutely eviscerating moammar gadhafi's air defense systems, and it will be fairly safe for other nations to fly on a regular basis. at that point, the u.s. is going to back off from direct command and from the prominent role that it's now playing in terms of air strikes, both on air defense systems and libyan ground forces. he said a matter of days.
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some senior military officials have told us, maybe we should take our time just a little bit to make sure that everything is in place before the u.s. steps back from the more prominent he public role. but make no mistake about it, it could still be led by an american commander, and u.s. forces will still play a fairly prominent role in any of the military operations there. >> as you say, the white house and pentagon eager to get the american face off this mission. >> if i can make one more quick point, willie. >> yes. >> you know, in every war campaign or military campaign, there's a certain element of propaganda. and u.s. intelligence has reported that there is an indication that gadhafi and his chief of staff have ordered the libyan military to round up bodies from morgues and place them at some bomb sites, some recent fresh bomb sites there throughout libya and invite international media attention and coverage in an attempt to
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make it appear that the u.s. is committing acts of atrocity against libyan civilians. don't know if that's been done yet, but these are according to u.s. intelligence reports this morning. >> mick, i'm glad you brought that up. i just read your note there in our file. u.s. military officials telling you, jim, that u.s. intelligence says gadhafi's chief of staff ordering bodies moved from morgues and placed at fresh bombing sites. all right, jim, thanks so much. we appreciate it. >> okay, willie. as we reported, there's been an apparent setback overnight at japan's fukushima nuclear plant. the plant operators does not know what caused 2 of the 6 plants to smoke this morning causing workers to evacuate the area. the state department is provided potassium tablets to ward off radiation exposure. david albright is with us, good morning. what can you tell us about what's happening? we heard some glimmers of hope over the weekend that perhaps they've gotten some power into
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those reactors that can start cooling things down. then this morning we hear about these evacuations. what's the latest? >> well, these developments over the last 24 hours show just how serious this thing remains. i think last week the feeling that i had and others was it was sort of one step forward, two back. i think over the weekend it started to feel like two steps forward and one back. so i think the trend is good but this smoke from one of the reactors, the most troubled reactor just reminds us that we're not out of the woods yet and om serious radiatii radiati releases can still happen in the japanese are not careful. in this case, from what i understand, the releases have remained low and are trending lower. i hope that's the way it goes. >> we're talking about building number three here that houses and spent fuel storage pool. i think a lot of people have been watching, david, the way that the japanese are attacking this problem, dropping water from helicopters, using water
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cannons from fire trucks. it seems like perhaps a stop-gap measure. is that effective? will it get them where they need to go where they can actually go in and take more permanent measures? >> it should. the fire in unit three is so troubling because that's the one that received couple thousand tons of water. and so how can a fire start after that? and so i think waiting for why this fire happened, but it just shows that water isn't the only solution. and people are starting to talk about other solutions, including entombment of unit three. >> is that a realistic -- i heard that, too, basically dump cement on top of it and create a tomb essentially burying the nuclear material. is that realistic? is that effective? >> well, i would have a little concern about it until we know for sure the reactors are under control. because you don't want to have anymore heat or accidents or explosions inside that reactor
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core or in the spent fuel pond. so i think -- i would hope that that's later. i mean one development over the weekend is that everyone's been suspecting is that the government did announce that these reactors will be shut down permanently and they will have to eventually be entombed in some way. hopefully they'll be able to get all the irradiated fuel out first but i think people are beginning to lose hope all of it will come out. >> david, are you more or less optimistic than say a week ago that we have averted or will avert some kind of nuclear disaster at the fukushima plants? >> i'm more optimistic this week. i'm still cautious, but no, i feel much more optimistic. last week there were some very serious radiation releases from those reactors and we're seeing the results of that now, with namely the radiation entering the food supply. it takes several days for that to happen. but i think the radiation of the food supply is from the releases last week, so i'm optimistic that the japanese are getting control over this, although
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you'd have to worry that it is going to be some setbacks. and i think the enormity of this accident is starting to settle on the japanese as they contemplate how to pick their food. if it's contaminated and many areas near the reactor accident site, probably up to 50 or more miles, the government will probably contaminate a lot of that food and just destroy it. but the japanese are going to be -- have to make decisions about the food that does enter the food chain and enters through grocery stores. it will have some radiation ton but the government will tell them it is not enough to cause harm. i would probably side more with the government but it will create a lot of anxiety among the japanese and they'll have to wrestle with this problem very carefully as they choose their food in grocery stores. >> the ripples of this crisis keep going on. david albright, thanks so much. moving to sarah palin now. she continues to mull a presidential run. she, like many other potential republican candidates before her, is making a trip abroad.
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today she's in israel meeting with prime minister benjamin netanyahu. on saturday during a visit to india, she was asked about her presidential aspirations. >> you plan to be on top of the ticket? >> actually, i knew you were going to ask me that eventually. don't know yet. >> don't know yet? >> don't know yet. i don't think that there needs to be a rush still to get out there as a declared candidate. i think that there is still plenty of time to find out who else is willing to put their name forward in service. >> with me now, in washington, msnbc's norah o'donnell. hey, norah. >> hey, good to see you, willie. >> good to see you. what exactly is sarah palin doing overseas? what's the idea behind this trip? >> well, this is a rare overseas trip for sarah palin. her first to india and israel an of course it's raising speculation that she is trying to beef up her foreign policy credentials ahead of a presidential run. but she was invited to speak at the india conclave, a
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prestigious group in front of india's elite. she was paid for that and she decided on her own to go to israel. but she certainly made some news there in india, not only saying that there's no rush for her to decide, but she also once again blamed the media for her mistreatment. she says she doesn't play the victim card, and then she went after president barack obama on libya. she was specifically asked how she would deal differently with libya and she said, well, we have a tradition in the united states of not criticizing foreign leaders when we travel overseas, and then she did that and accused of president of dithering on libya. >> we've got that sound bite. let's play it for our viewers. >> the u.s. has a tradition, of course, of americans, as we travel to foreign soil, we don't criticize our president's foreign policy, even as friendly as soil as india is. i won't criticize what his foreign policy has been but to answer your question, certainly there would have been more decisiveness, less dithering, more decisiveness.
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>> some inconsistencies there, perhaps. norah. >> right, i think it is important to point out too palin went on and did not offer a different plan. she said she supports a no-fly zone and the air strikes and did not want ground troops which is essentially the position of president obama and this admission. >> you've been following sarah palin closely over the months and years. what do you make -- i won't ask you to handicap but is she still giving serious consideration to 2012 despite what we heard her say in india? >> i think she is. i think she is considering it but she says there's no rush to do it. she's clearly a unique figure in politics that marches to the beat of her own drum. you see that she made this trip to israel which was a private trip. she was supporting a star of david necklace while visiting one of the holiest sites in jerusalem, the western wall. her pac is paying for her trip, sarah pac, then she is having this private dinner tonight with israel's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu. but look, i also talked to the chairman of the iowa republican party yesterday who said even
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though sarah palin says there's no rush to do this, there is a rush in some of these early caucus and primary states because you need key staffers, especially like a caucus state like iowa, a lot of the key activists are lining up with other republican presidential nominees. so sarah palin is going to have to make a decision soon if she hopes to win in those early states. >> that republican field is of course wide open. norah, thanks so much. great to see you. trivia time. which member of congress has been known to bar his staff from parking foreign cars in congressional lots? you guessed it -- ohio congressman dennis kucinich who, by the way, called for president obama's impeachment the other day. we'll be right back.
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president obama made ending the wars in iraq and afghanistan a central pledge in his run for the white house. now two years into his presidency, the president is commander in chief of three conflicts overseas and he's finding it harder to stick to his domestic agenda, jobs and the economy. jonathan altar is national affairs columnist for "newsweek" and msnbc political analyst. john, good to see you. so he ratcheted up in afghanistan, doubled down there, now going into libya. are his supporters, people who voted for him in 2008, surprised to see barack obama the war president? >> i think they are. he first came to national prominence -- or even just prominence in illinois, with a speech against the iraq war. that's how barack obama became prominent. >> which he brought up repeatedly during the campaign. >> and he used it to beat hillary in the primary.
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so it is surprising, but this is the hand he has been dealt by history. he's a reluctant warrior. so it's not as if he's converted to being a cowboy. so in that sense, i think people recognize the difference between him and former president bush. but you're former president bus. but you're right. this is a great example of how things turn out different in history than you might expect. >> he inherited iraq and afghanistan but he didn't inherit libya. this was a choice that he made along with the u.n. are we beginning to see an obama doctrine? >> i think we are beginning to see an obama doctrine. i think it's less focused on humanitarian than we've worked together with our alleys and don't go charging off alone.
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but right now we're in this very uncomfortable transition where from what was sort of multilateralism for appearances to general multilatter ralism. it's announced by the french and even though most of the weapons are being fired by americans at the beginning in the first 48 hours, he didn't want to admit that. so hillary clinton referred to them, others, enforcing resolution 1973 from the security council rather than us being the ones who were taking the lead. so this is a change. >> it doesn't mean what you're doing is the right thing to do. >> that's right. >> so we go into libya, we're trying to protect the
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opposition, the rebels, citizens being slaughtered by gadhafi. why not do the same in yemen where 52 protesters were shot in the streets on friday, why not in bahrain where people were shot in the street? can you explain the selectism? >> well, i think the president is applying a case by case approach. so in bahrain, for instance, where if the rebels took charge, it would have been a real benefit for iran. when the saudi troops went into bahrain, we winked and said okay. in yemen, where the government has not been so effective but trying to fight al qaeda, we weren't so anxious to see the
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rebels succeed. so each one of these cases is a little bit different and the president is a prag ma tift and is not interested in applying a consistent line. but the situation is so much in flux, willy, the middle east is more in transition and in flux than at any time since the end of colonialism. that is more than half a century ago. in some cases, a full century ago. so things are -- it's almost a game of 52-card pickup in the region and i don't think anyone can predict with any certainty all the way that the cards will fall. >> and we're forced to pick sides. jonathan, thank you. appreciate it. we'll be right back by the daily rundown. fumble! [ male announcer ] with so many real chocolate chips you'll never forget the moments that are crammed with joy, chips ahoy!
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all right. president obama's bracket, ncaa tournament, final four picks,
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three out of four remaining. he took the number one seeds, bold of him. let's go to chuck todd, how he stacks up against the president. came become to haunt him. ohio state, san diego state, that's a brave pick. chuck and savannah in south america with the president. i'll be back tomorrow. coming up next, jansing and company and then don't miss andrea mitchell reports. ♪
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